Connect in the back of the net

David Luiz Moreira Marinho, known as simply as David Luiz by the football fraternity, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for English club Chelsea and the Brazil national team.

Primarily a central defender, he can also be deployed as a defensive midfielder. Born 30 years ago, on the 22nd of April 1987, David Luiz is now arguably at the mature stage of his football career.

Although primarily a central defender, David Luiz can also be deployed as an effective defensive midfielder, and has drawn praise for his physical strength, work-rate, technique, and range of distribution as a defender.

Luiz has also been praised for his personality, composure in possession, and confidence on the ball, which enables him to play the ball out from the back or launch an attack with long balls after winning back possession.

A powerful striker of the ball from distance, David Luiz has also been known to take and score from long-range free kicks.

 

Excelling under Conte’s stewardship

Although in the past he has been criticised in the media for his inconsistent defensive performances, and for being reckless in his challenges, as well as prone to errors or lapses in concentration, he showed notable improvements upon his return to Chelsea.

During the 2017-18 season, the club’s new manager Antonio Conte decided to deploy him as a ball playing centre back (his major strength) in a three-man back-line in the team’s 3-4-3.

Luiz excelled in the new role, while Conte praised the defender for working to improve his composure and concentration, and singled out Luiz as being “crucial” to the team’s success, also labelling him as one of the best defenders in the world. I couldn’t agree more with Conte.

 

Novel career

To underscore his talent on the football pitch David Luiz’s career history reads like a novel. His football career started in his native Brazil for Club Vitoria before moving to Portuguese giants Benfica where he starred for five seasons.

Inevitably, he joined Chelsea in January 2011, helping the team to lift the UEFA Champions League and the FA Cup during the 2011–12 season under Roberto Di Matteo.

His propensity to collect winners’ medals was followed by the UEFA Europa League under Rafa Benitez the following season.

 

Mou does the unthinkable

In June 2014, he transferred to Paris Saint-Germain the French giants, against this writer’s will. He was sold for a fee of £50 million, a world record transfer for a defender at the time.  

At PSG, David Luiz won all four domestic competitions in both of his seasons in French football. He returned to Chelsea in August 2016 in a £30 million transfer deal much to the happiness of this writer and millions of avid Chelsea fans across the globe.

When Luiz was sold to PSG,I felt he was pushed out by Jose Mourinho who always wants to be the main man. My argument can be buttressed by the fact that when Mourinho came back to Chelsea for the second time, Juan Mata was the fans’ favourite having won the Player’s Player of the Year for 2 consecutive seasons but he sold him to Manchester United for a flimsy reason.

He followed this up by selling David Luiz, who at the time had become a cult hero among Chelsea fans and was being earmarked to take over the captain’s arm band from John Terry. The fans loved him so much and even gave him a new moniker ‘King David’ and this might have secretly irked Mourinho.

This is debatable but it’s my personal intuition. 

 

Fighter

Typical of a fighter, David Luiz worked tirelessly to become a great player he is now. For instance, his stint with Benfica did not start so well. It was plagued by poor performances and injuries.

However, over time he overcame all that to become the vice-captain and most remarkably he won the Portuguese Liga Player of the Year in the 2009-10 season, garnering 38% of the votes while the runner-up, his teammate Angel Di Maria, received 8%.

No Chelsea fan will ever forget that bullet of a header that David Luiz scored against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge while turning out for PSG to knock Chelsea out of the Champions league in the 2014-15 season. The pain that Mourinho exhibited on his face said it all.

However, on his part David Luiz later apologised for celebrating the goal, saying that it was the result of sudden emotion rather than malice towards his former employers.  In addition, in the same season while turning out for PSG, David Luiz was nominated in the FIFA World Team of the Year at the 2014 Ballon d’Or awards, quite a statement on the player’s pedigree.

 

Successful and fruitful return

On 31 August 2016, David Luiz returned to Chelsea from PSG, for a reported fee of £34 million, on a three-year deal.

On 16 September 2016, he made his return debut at home in 2–1 defeat against Liverpool after John Terry was ruled out for ten days. On 31 January 2017, David Luiz scored his first goal for the season from a trademark free kick against Liverpool at Anfield. His goal marked his first Premier League goal since April 2013.

On 20 April 2017, Luiz was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2016-17 season. The way he quickly adapted into the team now coached by Antonio Conte was like he had never left Chelsea.

In fact, his outstanding performances that season of his return exonerated Conte from media blame as they had criticized him for re-signing a player they felt was past his prime.

 

Key component of Brazil’s national side

On the international scene David Luiz was so good that when he excelled at Benfica the Portuguese national team attempted to call him up owing to his Portuguese citizenship obtained in his 5 years with Benfica.

Obviously, there was no way that would have happened as David Luiz had already represented his native country in the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in 2007.

To date, David Luiz has more than 50 international caps for Brazil quite a feat considering the galaxy of football talent in Brazil. The fact that he has on numerous occasions captained the Brazil national team speaks volumes about ‘King David’.

 

My personal favourite

I could write a novel about David Luiz not least because he is my all-time favourite footballer at Chelsea but also because he is so multi -talented and likeable by his teammates and coaches, save for one maybe.

When he speaks to the media you can see his confidence and leadership qualities. It will be interesting to see exactly how Conte will deploy him this year with the defence now replete with talent and the defensive midfield also awash with so many players who can play the anchor-man role ever so well.

The advantage that David Luiz possesses is that he is adept in both roles.

 

Written by Spencer Joubert

Follow Spencer on Twitter @SpencerJoubert

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